A Staged Murder
by Jo A. Hiestand
Bonfire Night! The four hundred-year-old tradition of burning the straw effigy is beginning in Upper Kingsleigh, England. The torch extends… But it’s no mock figure at the end of the rope; it’s the body of a man, an American tourist. Brenna Taylor, Derbyshire C.I.D., is assigned to the case on a team of detectives under Detective-Chief Inspector Geoffrey Graham. It is the chance Brenna has been waiting for, and she is anxious to impress him.
Most villagers suspect an outsider as the killer. But when the frost-covered body of a resident is discovered, apprehension shifts and suspects multiply. Among them are the American’s brother-in-law, still angry over his sister’s death; the husband, who fears his wife will desert him for the American; the inebriated, penniless uncle, who clings to his nephew’s fortune tighter than a cork in a wine bottle. Then Brenna becomes the target of a series of frightening pranks–the work of a harassing male colleague, or a deadly warning to leave the case? Her hunt is personal now.
When I tried to interview him after lunch, I discovered Uncle Gilbert had forsaken the whiskey bottle Monday afternoon for his lithium salts. It was his normal antidote for the attacks of manic-depression that cyclically claimed him. He was not altogether good at remembering to take his medicine. And right now he was not good at remembering much about the previous evening. He’d taken a nap after downing a substantial liquid lunch, but now sat on the edge of his bed, his feet dangling over the side, his body in rumpled shirt and trousers, and half-listened to his nephew. It was obviously still too early to think. Besides it probably hurt his head.
“You bleeding berk!” Arthur yelled. “You’re looking at a murder charge!”
Gilbert blinked stupidly at Arthur, hearing the words and the wrath behind them, yet not comprehending what he had done to warrant such an outburst. He asked again whom he had murdered.
“That American tourist,” Arthur snapped, forgetting I hovered in the open doorway just behind him. “You were more awake when you went out this morning than you are now. Snap out of it!”
Uncle Gilbert sagged against the pockmarked headboard, the pillow puffing out on each side of him like whipped cream oozing from a cream puff. His eyes tried to determine from his nephew’s face what his ears couldn’t, for he stared at Arthur. “Don’t yell at me, laddie. I’m under a lot of stress. I’ll forget to take my medicine.” He didn’t have to enumerate what that might cause. Evidently they both knew.
“You’re under stress? Hell, what about me? What about this nose-above-water establishment? If many more guests check out and the business should fold—”
Gilbert groaned and pulled the sheet up to his neck. His fingers gripped the fabric as though he needed the tactile assurance that he and Arthur weren’t players in one of his alcoholic nightmares. He squinted at Arthur, who was pacing the floor and coaxing all types of groans and creaks from the wooden floorboards. Yet there was something surreal about the scene, something Max Ernst might paint.
Arthur stopped his pacing and turned to me. “Honestly, Sergeant, the man’s more of a nuisance than he’s worth at times. But what can I do? He’s family and I love him.”
I said I’d known many similar situations.
Arthur glared again at his uncle, evidently short on sympathy. “Where were you last night? The Sergeant wants to know. And so do I. I didn’t see you all yesterday afternoon, and you weren’t at evening tea. Byron said you were at the bonfire. Where’d you go afterwards? I didn’t hear you come in.”
Gilbert pulled the sheet tighter, shielding himself from Arthur’s verbal battery. “Art, why all the questions? Slow down, slow down! Where was I, when did I come home… What’s so important? Why did you wake me from my nap? I need my sleep.”
“You need your sleep like you need another drink.”
My Review: I love the idea for this book, a female detective looking to prove herself. The writing is engaging and draws you in. I also love that it’s not set in America. It’s nice to be transported out of the states every once in a while. The mystery is well done, and if you like mysteries then I think you will enjoy this book.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British. Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times, and lived there during her professional folksinging stint. This intimate knowledge of Britain forms the backbone of the Peak District mystery series.
Jo’s insistence for accuracy–from police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the area–has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.
In 1999 she returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.
Jo founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime, serving as its first president. Besides her love of mysteries and early music, she also enjoys photography, reading, creating recipes, and her backyard wildlife. Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis home.
BOOK WILL BE $0.99 DURING THE TOUR
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Jo will be awarding a handmade lapis lazuli necklace on a bamboo cord to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour – International giveaway. The cord is adjustable and the necklace is comprised of three stones ranging in length from 1 5/8″ to 2 1/8″. (It’s like the one Brenna Taylor in the book wears)
Sign up for her newsletter at http://authorloranahoopes.site123.me/